Brit major arrives at space station


I foresee a great surge in the number of youngsters wanting to forge a career as an astronaut in the future, thanks to Major Tim Peake who will be spending the next six months on the International Space Station.
Major Peake, Russian commander Yuri Malenchenko and NASA astronaut Tim Kopra were greeted by the existing crew of the ISS, which travels around the Earth at 17,500mph at an average height of 220 miles. The Queen and Prince Philip also sent their congratulations on his safe arrival.
The crew had taken off in their 305-ton Soyuz FG rocket at 11.03am UK time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. Major Peake gave a thumbs-up gesture at the on-board camera as the craft completed its first booster stage and the boosters fell away and joked that it was a “great time in the office”.
Take-off had been watched by his wife Rebecca and his two young sons after an emotional farewell.
The docking had suffered some difficulties in manoeuvring the capsule into position automatically but a second attempt to re-align it manually was successful.
Major Peake, 43, who works for the European Space Agency and is a former Army aviator and helicopter test pilot, is now the first fully British professional astronaut to be sent into space.
Whilst at the station he will take part in hundreds of experiments aimed at finding out the effects of microgravity on his own body, among them running the entire 26.2-mile London Marathon on a treadmill. Other maintenance duties could see him taking space walks.
Incidentally, during the launch, as per tradition, each cosmonaut was allowed three songs to be played to them. Major Peake chose Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”, U2’s “Beautiful Day” and Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars”.

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